A number of years in the past, Mina Stone and her accomplice Alex had been driving by central, mainland Greece after they determined to make a cease within the mountainous village of Karpenisi. Hungry, they wandered as much as a small, brightly lit restaurant. Peering in, they may see tables full of locals, attractive plates of meals and, oddly, photographs of dancing elves on the partitions.
“It was very surreal—I feel it was like a youngsters’s daycare by day and at night time, these two girls turned it right into a restaurant,” says Stone, chef and proprietor of Mina’s at MoMa PS1 in New York. The village, she says, appeared as if it was trapped within the Seventies. “It was busy, so we went in. The meals was completely superb.”
However the actual showstopper got here on the finish. Whereas it’s customary in Greece to be served a bowl of recent fruit drizzled in honey or one thing comparable for dessert, one of many girls as a substitute introduced over a beneficiant serving to of portokalopita, a syrup-soaked phyllo cake and Greek espresso.
Although Stone grew up visiting her grandmother’s residence in Greece and having fun with her cooking—significantly sweets like baklava—this was her first encounter with portokalopita. “I didn’t understand it existed and it was so superb,” she says. “I bear in mind asking her, ‘What is that this? How did you make it?’ She form of laughed, turned over my serviette, wrote down the recipe and was like, ‘It’s really easy to make! Right here’s the recipe.’ I’ve been making it ever since.”
The cake is made out of shredded phyllo dough that’s baked right into a yogurt-based batter. It’s then soaked in an ultra-sweet orange and cinnamon syrup. It falls right into a class of desserts often known as siropiasta, which implies “soaked in syrup,” and consists of Greek baklava and Turkish revani.
“From Turkey to Syria to Lebanon to Iraq they’ve these syrup-soaked desserts,” says Stone. “They are often so scrumptious and opulent, however usually are manner too candy. They’re actually speculated to be served within the afternoon with a powerful espresso. It’s not an after-dinner factor.”
Although Stone has since misplaced the serviette with the unique recipe, the dessert has grow to be a go-to at her restaurant and in her residence. It’s additionally featured in her new cookbook that dives into Greek meals tradition, Lemon, Love & Olive Oil.
Nevertheless, her recipe does embody one notable adjustment: much less sugar. This fashion, it’s not too overwhelmingly candy after a hearty dinner, doesn’t require the bitterness of espresso and, most significantly, you’ll be able to eat a couple of piece.
“It looks like a heat hug,” says Stone. “It has such a particular scent that jogs my memory of my grandmother’s kitchen and being in Greece and appreciating the second. It’s thrilling to see different individuals having fun with it.”
When you love syrup-soaked Mediterranean desserts like baklava, listed below are Stone’s ideas for making the a lot easier and equally scrumptious portokalopita.
The premise of portokalopita, like most muffins, is pretty easy: combine all of it collectively and bake. “The one powerful half about it’s ensuring that each one the phyllo [is coated with batter],” says Stone. “The cake must be dry sufficient to take in the syrup, so it looks like there’s not sufficient batter for the phyllo. I get in there with my fingers and ensure I can really feel that each single phyllo piece is saturated. The phyllo creates these layers that make such a cool texture.”
And Stone says it’s best to follow pre-made phyllo and never get too formidable. “Making your individual phyllo is basically applicable for pies, however I feel for this dessert you want the packaged stuff.”
To make the syrup, Stone reduce down on the quantity of sugar that was included within the unique recipe. She nonetheless boils it with strips of orange rind and cinnamon sticks for an intense taste and aroma that’s “perfumy, however in a great way.”
“Greek and Center Jap deserts have this factor of fragrance that I feel takes some getting used to, like rose water or orange blossom water and mastic,” she says. “This has that very same fragrance high quality to it, however it’s fragrant and actually approachable.”
Additionally, don’t hesitate to pour each final little bit of syrup over the cake. “It’s going to look like an excessive amount of, however it’s not,” says Stone. “It’ll soak it up, and also you want all of it for the precise moisture.”
That sweetness can be important for steadiness. The phyllo is like salty and unleavened Greek matzah and it’s coated in a tangy yogurt batter, so “while you soak it within the syrup, it balances out like when you have got salt on a cookie or caramel. It cuts that candy.”
When serving portokalopita at Mina’s, Stone “cuts it into skinny triangles” and treats it as a restaurant would their pastries. “It’s actually juicy and moist and that’s what’s so yummy about it,” says Stone. “While you take a chew, it’s this spongy syrupy dessert, however it’s not too candy.”
Serves 10 to 12
For the Syrup:
- 2 cups Water
- 2 cups Granulated sugar
- 6 Orange peel strips
- 2 Cinnamon sticks
- 1 tsp Kosher salt
For the Cake Pudding:
- .5 cup Canola, safflower or olive oil, plus extra for the pan
- 3 Eggs
- 7 oz Plain Greek yogurt
- .5 cup Granulated sugar
- 1 tsp Vanilla extract
- 2 tsp Baking powder
- 1-pound Phyllo dough
- To make the syrup add the entire substances to a pot and produce to a simmer over medium/low warmth.
- Simmer for five minutes for the substances to meld. Then take away the pot from the warmth and put aside to chill.
- To make the cake, preheat the oven to 350 F and oil a 9-inch cake pan.
- In a big bowl, whisk the eggs, yogurt, oil, sugar, vanilla and baking powder.
- Shred the phyllo and fluff along with your fingers to separate the items. Fold the phyllo items into the yogurt combination and use your fingers to verify every bit of phyllo is roofed in batter.
- Pour the batter into the ready pan and bake for 45 minutes, or till golden brown on prime. Take away the cake from the oven and poke it with a fork or chopstick everywhere, so you have got a lot of holes for the syrup to soak in. Slowly pour the syrup over the recent cake. You may need to pause halfway by and await the cake to soak up the syrup earlier than including extra.
- It’ll look like quite a lot of syrup, however belief me, use all of it or the cake will probably be dry. Let the cake sit for at the least 1 hour earlier than serving.
- The cake is greatest served heat or at room temperature the day you make it. Retailer leftovers in an hermetic container for as much as three days.